To keep children safe as passengers, an alternative to the Class A, B or C/C+ recreational vehicle (RV), is the non-motorized/tow-able RV (fifth-wheel, trailer, tent trailer, truck camper). These are pulled with a passenger vehicle or carried on a pick-up truck. This allows for all passengers to ride in a vehicle that meets Federal occupant safety standards child restraint systems can be installed and appropriately. Each recreation vehicle below are towed behind the passenger truck or vehicle. The truck camper carries the camper. Keep in mind that even with tow-able RV's, these are also high-profile vehicles (meaning they are restricted in high wind conditions) and also carry significant risks when making sharp turns and backing. When traveling with an infant or toddler in any RV make sure to childproof it similarly to that of your home. See "Additional Child Safety RV Travel Tips" in the next section.
Childproofing Your Recreational Vehicle
Childproofing: Remember when an infant or toddler is exposed to a new environment it provides an opportunity to learn and explore, but also increases the risk of injury. Be prepared, because constant supervision, while recommended, is not always 100% possible. The following layers of protection will to help fill any slight gap in supervision:
- Install latches on drawers and cabinets.
- Turn hot water temperature down below 120 degrees
- Install electrical outlet covers
- Use gates (leading to exit stairs, climbable areas, kitchen)
- Use of travel cribs for use while relaxing, cooking, bathing
- Be aware of:
- Unexpected climbing areas where toddlers can climb onto, such as from a bench onto the kitchen counter or stove, etc. (falls, burns, cuts, strangulation risk)
- Doors and cabinets where a child can easily get inside and become trapped. This can include closets, bathroom, bedrooms, or even the RV itself
- Stairs/exit ways, doors, windows (window and door screens are not meant to keep children from falling through)
- Loose cords, tie downs, duffle bags with cords, window shades, etc. that might be within a child's reach can become a strangulation risk
- Electrical heaters-make sure a baby cannot put their fingers or other item in resulting in fire or burn risk
- Low level storage doors, vents, utility access, etc. where a toddler can enter
- Access to medications, chemicals, etc.
The following childproofing preventive measures will help to reduce exposure to injury risk in the RV.
Cabinet Locks: Temporary cabinet locks to prevent lower cabinet entry.
Door Knob Covers: Temporary door knob covers can be purchased to prevent entry in bathrooms and exit doors. When these are not possible use "baby safety gates for traveling" (described below).
Outlet Covers: Temporary outlet covers to prevent access to lower level outlets.
Oven Knob Covers: Temporary oven knob covers are also available for when baby safety gates to prevent access to kitchen area is not possible.
Baby Safety Gate for Traveling: A lightweight, easily store-able safety gate to provide a barrier to exit stairs, climbable areas, kitchen, etc.
Sleeping: For both infants and toddlers, when sleeping in a new environment a fall from the bed is always a risk. However a baby travel bed will help prevent a fall. These are lightweight, fold able, take up little space and are available for both infants and toddler size.
Changing: Be aware of the potential fall risk from not having appropriate changing tables. Infants are always at risk of rolling over and falling. As a preventive measure when in the RV use a changing pad. These store easy, are lightweight and will help to prevent a fall.
Travel Crib: Great for use of while adult is busy cooking, bathing, cleaning RV, etc.
Travel High Chair: A travel high chair is lightweight and stores easily. Follow instructions carefully and make sure to use harness strap as recommended for each use. This prevents a child from reaching and pulling themselves over and/or standing and falling (these rules apply to high chairs at home as well).
REMEMBER: Never leave a child alone in an RV or motor vehicle. Not even for a moment!